The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
Now – considering that I last read The Hobbit, aged around twelve, many, many years ago – before starting to re-read the book, ask me what I remember of it apart from Bilbo and Gandalf? I would answer, “Gollum and the ring, and Smaug the dragon, but particularly Gollum.” I was surprised to find that Gollum was almost incidental.
But what I had completely forgotten about were the dwarves. Not seven, but a whole baker’s dozen of the grumpy things!
The Hobbit charts Bilbo Baggins’ big adventure to vanquish the dragon Smaug. Gandalf hand-picks the little hobbit, who dreams of adventure (his Tookish ancestry) but is to timid to act, to join the team of dwarves to seek out and smite Smaug.
“This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained – well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.”
Along the way they get into many scrapes, meeting different folk and creatures in each chapter as they make their way through the different regions of Middle Earth. Emotionally, Bilbo is on a journey too as he grows up and becomes the lynchpin in the band of adventurers, (especially as Gandalf has the tendency to disappear leaving them to sort out their own problems).
As a taster of what is to come in the LOTR proper, this children’s tale was a delightful prequel. I’m looking forward to the next three month’s books in the LOTR readalong immensely. (7/10)
0 thoughts on ““In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.””
I'm about halfway through now (reading it at work), and it is so much fun. And it's interesting how different some of the minor events seem once you've read Lord of the Rings. The incidental Gollum story (which was my favorite part of the book even on my first reading) becomes the most important part of the book once you know what comes later. The thing that has struck me on this reading is how different the elves seem in comparison to LOTR. They're jolly at Elrond's and villains in Mirkwood!
I have to say LOTR and The Hobbit have always fallen flat with me and I have tried so, so hard to love them. If we all liked the same thing it would be deadly boring wouldnt it! Ha!
Teresa – you're quite right – going back to it, knowing what comes after does colour your memory, so it was pleasant to be reminded of all the rest although I did get fed up of the pairs of dwarves quite often.Simon – chacun a son gout, as they say in France (but with accents and stuff)!
I remembered all the dwarves! I'm actually surprised that they're not that individual yet (I'm in the first half of the book). I'm looking forward to the LOTR read-a-longs too…I think the discussions will be much meatier!
Eva – Re dwarves – I did have over thirty years of forgetting! The Hobbit is obviously a children's book and is twee in places – I'm looking forward to the real thing too.
This time through I am struck by how much classic hero's journey stuff there is. As you said, Gandalf has a tendency to disappear on the company (because of LOTR, we know he is busy with Larger Events). But otherwise Bilbo would never get his chance to shine. The dwarves are all mostly a pack, aren't they?
Hi JG – love your blog name… It is a classic quest novel isn't it – each chapter brings a new challenge.
I was surprised by Gollum's role as well. He had such an impact on me (I just love him) I didn't remember that his time in the book was so short.
Gollum leaves biggest impression but has a smaller part than I remember too. The chapter where Bilbo and Gollum meet is actuallly favorite.